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Smoking means the use of tobacco products intended for consumption via a combustion process or other form of heating.
The purpose of smoking bans and restrictions laid down by the Tobacco Act is to protect the population from the adverse health effects of tobacco smoke. The aim is to ensure that nobody is exposed to tobacco smoke against his or her will. In addition to the Tobacco Act, other laws and regulations apply to smoking and the restriction of smoking, such as occupational safety legislation and the Health Protection Act.
The smoking bans and restrictions stipulated in the Tobacco Act also apply to activities such as waterpipe smoking and the smoking of herbal cigarettes (see herbal product for smoking) and electronic cigarettes. Although smoking bans do not apply to the use of smoke-free tobacco products (such as snuff), the use of such products is prohibited, under the Tobacco Act, in indoor and outdoor facilities intended for children and young people, such as day care centres, educational institutions and playgrounds.
According to the Tobacco Act, smoking is prohibited in indoor areas that are accessible to the public, employees or customers. The smoking ban applies to the indoor areas of buildings, vehicles and similar areas. It is worth noting that the definition of an indoor area included in the Tobacco Act covers partly open areas as well.
In certain cases, smoking in outdoor areas is also prohibited by the Tobacco Act. These include shelters, auditoriums and other spectator areas at public events organised outdoors or other facilities that are directly intended for following the event and where participants stay in one place, as well as the outdoor areas of day-care centres, educational institutions, playgrounds and public beaches.
Smoking is also prohibited in private vehicles, whenever anyone under the age of 15 is present in the vehicle. However, the prohibition does not apply to living areas inside vehicles.
The Tobacco Act contains a few exceptions to the above-mentioned smoking bans (such as smoking on board vessels used in international maritime transport).
’No smoking’ signs
The proprietors of indoor or outdoor areas and organisers of public events must put up signs indicating areas where smoking is prohibited and where smoking is allowed. The content of such signs must be unambiguous, and the size and location of the signs must be such that they are easily visible to those who enter or spend time in the premises.
Smoking may be allowed in a separate room in an indoor area that has been approved for smoking purposes under the Land Use and Building Act. In such cases, it must be ensured that tobacco smoke cannot enter areas where smoking is prohibited.
If a smoking room is established in a restaurant, it must be reasonably large in proportion to the size and seating capacity of the business premises.
It is prohibited to serve or consume food and drink in a smoking room.
Smoking rooms must not be located in connection with indoor areas that are mainly used by persons under the age of 18.
Smoking is prohibited in the shared and public indoor areas of housing corporations. Such areas include, for example, staircases, attics, basement, club rooms and shared saunas.
A housing corporation may prohibit smoking in shared outdoor areas under its control. However, it is worth noting that a housing corporation’s right to prohibit smoking does not extend to outdoor areas controlled by shareholders, or to other outdoor areas beyond the control of the housing corporation.
Housing corporations (building owners) may submit an application requesting that the municipality impose a ban that also forbids smoking in areas under the control of residents. The municipality must impose a smoking ban on the areas referred to in the application if, due to structural or other conditions, tobacco smoke may other than exceptionally spread from the area in question to another balcony, to an outdoor area belonging to another apartment, or inside another apartment.